Lordship Democracy

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: lawrence@krubner.com, or follow me on Twitter.

Given the failures in Israel and Britain and the USA, it seem the type of liberal democracy that grew out of the Enlightenment has run into circumstances which it is unable to overcome. Therefore we need a new kind of democracy, one that offers more stability, while also allowing greater systems of accountability. I know there are many people in progressive circles in the USA who are hoping for a parliamentary system in the USA, but wouldn’t it be strange to reach for that solution just when it is failing so badly in other places?

One fact strikes me right now. In Britain, the House Of Lords seems more reasonable than the Commons. That much isn’t surprising, but perhaps this is: the observation remains true even if you only look at Tories. While the Tories have become absolute lunatics in the Commons, they remain sane and sober individuals in the House Of Lords. Why is this? Almost certainly, the reason is that in the Lords they serve long terms; indeed, the majority are appointed for life. They are not worried about the next election, they are not constantly posturing for the public, they are not desperate to be all things to all people.

The House Of Lords is seen as somewhat illegitimate since many members gain entry via birth, which is clearly not a worthy path to ruling, and is obsolete in the modern age. But what if they were elected? So long as the terms were long enough, the benefits would still be there. If the people were elected for a single term of 30 years, all the advantages would be there: they could think about the long term, they would be restricted to a single term therefore they would not be thinking of re-election, they would not have to jump up and down in front of the cameras, they could make difficult decisions without facing an immediate backlash.

For any progressives who still think a parliamentary system would be good for the USA, do consider how badly it is currently working in Israel:

“The Israeli public does not want a third election. They want a broad unity government,” the head of the Likud negotiating team, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, told reporters just before the meeting. “If we don’t succeed in this process, in the end, whoever thwarts it will be sending the Israeli people to an election for the third time.”

Israel’s Basic Law on the Government deals with incapacity but doesn’t specify the circumstances under which a prime minister could become unable to fulfill his duties. Currently, the legal situation is that an indictment is not grounds for suspending a prime minister, unlike ministers, who must resign if facing indictment.

Rivlin did not mention Netanyahu’s legal situation, but was likely referring to the possibility that, under a coalition agreement, the premier would have to leave his post, at least temporarily, if indicted. In that case, Rivlin intimated, the effective powers of the premiership would go to the co-premier, while the “incapacitated” prime minister would retain the title and continue to live in the residence on Balfour Street.

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